Joseph Fort Newton once said, “men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Historically the use of political symbolism has served as an engine for strengthening and immortalizing regimes; consolidating and unifying citizens in a physical manifestation steeped in their respective rhetoric. The Border Wall, slated to stretch from San Diego to El Paso proposed by president Donald J Trump will separate Mexico from the United States, forever towering a monument to the Trump administration. While many Americans believe The Boarder Wall a solution to America’s illegal immigration, we as Americans are obligated to look past emotions invoked by the imagery of The Boarder and instead closely examine its projected efficacy. The economic efficiency, ecological impacts, and humanitarian repercussions stand as pillars of history we need find ourselves rightly situated in.
In 2017, according to the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), the United States Customs and Border Patrol requested $1.6 billion for only 65 miles covering the Rio Grande sector (Washington, DC: 2018). President Trump’s initial proposed total was $5 billion for Fiscal Year 2020 from start to completion of the border wall (American Immigration Council, 2019). However, the GAO has said in the past that United States Customs and Border Patrol evaluated and designed proposed border barriers without including sufficient analysis on their exact cost (American Immigration Council, 2019). This means the border wall is likely to amount in a significantly higher estimate than what United States Customs and Border Patrol estimated (American Immigration Council, 2019). In 2017, the US spent $274 million on maintenance alone. The state of the United States current six hundred and fifty miles of fencing lies over-budget tripling its past budget since 2017 (Department of Homeland Security, 2017, 11). A better alternative to increase security and situational awareness would be the assets utilized in modern day combat. One being tethered Intel, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) technology. It would be more costly effective for maintenance and manning than it would for a complete border wall and maintenance year after year. Instead of the economic burden of over-hiring agents and involving the National Guard, having special reconnaissance units and better trained CBP agents would indubitably drive national budget cost down for the years to come.
When researchers H Su, L-J Qu, K He, Z Zhang, J Wang, Z Chen and H Gu examined several species of plants residing on both sides of the great wall of china in combination with that of five species from seemingly identical distances apart from a nearby mountain top they were able to selectively study the effects the Great Wall of China has on genetic differentiation. What they found was that subpopulations on the nearby mountain path and diverged genetically speaking in a significantly larger sense than that of the two subpopulations divided by the Great Wall of China (Su, et al., 2003). The Great Wall of China in a sense was serving as a physical barrier to genetic drift otherwise known as gene flow significantly impacting the success of plant animal and bug species in the nearby area (Su, et al., 2003). If we take the Great Wall of China as a template for what the United States can expect when the United States erects a wall of its own there should be a cause for concern. According to Ellestrand, “Gene flow acts as an evolutionary glue by swapping alleles around the population between each other, there is an evolutionary united that it makes sense to call a species. Without gene flow you simply have a group of things that look similar at the moment because we they’re under similar selection pressures (Salt & Salthttp, 2016).” The Great Wall of China towers as a prime example of the ecological impacts of impediments to gene flow.
The United States and the Constitution was built by immigrants and the melting pot heritage. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t solely made to proclaim the separation between the United States and the British government. It was also created to reprobate restrictions on trade and immigration. It is not practical, or morally right to round up all the illegal immigrants and deport them indiscriminately. Many leave their home country seeking asylum from not just religious persecution but poverty, violence and illnesses that cannot be taken care of in their country. America was a place human being looked at as the paradise that gifts freedom, refuge and dreams of a better future.
The crippling cost of the wall does not meet what we as Americans must hold as the threshold for economic legitimacy. The families splintered and fractured, environmental pitfalls which may alter the ecosystem with long reaching repercussions cannot be overlooked. To let symbols trump reason, building the Border Wall would be a disastrous mistake which would hurt Americans financially and biologically for years to come.
- The High Cost and Diminishing Returns of a Border Wall. (2019, September 7). Retrieved from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/cost-of-border-wall.
- Su, H., Qu, L.-J., He, K., Zhang, Z., Wang, J., Chen, Z., & Gu, H. (2003). The Great Wall of China: a physical barrier to gene flow? The Great Wall of China: a Physical Barrier to Gene Flow?, 1–6. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/6800237
- U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Southwest Border Security: CBP Is Evaluating Designs and Locations for Border Barriers but Is Proceeding Without Key Information,” GAO-18-614 (Washington, DC: 2018), 11, https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/693488.pdf. Department of Homeland Security, 2017, Explanation of Changes https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/FY%202017%20Congressional%20Budget%20Justification%20-%20Volume%201_1.pdf
- Salt, A., & Salthttp, A. (2016, July 27). How important is gene flow? ‘ Botany One. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from https://www.botany.one/2014/06/important-gene-flow/.